by Oraia Helene
Celestite is often colorless or milky white, but sometimes it’s a beautiful sky blue — celestial blue, in fact, which gives it its name. It can also be lightly tinted with other colors, like yellow, red, green, and brown. It’s transparent to translucent, with a vitreous (or glassy) luster. It’s a brittle mineral, and its hardness is only 3 to 3.5 on the Mohs scale, about the same as calcite. Its chemical composition is SrSO4, or strontium sulfate. The mineral is also called celestine — in fact, it seems that this is the more common name in the mineralogical world, but I first encountered it as celestite, so that’s the name I’m going to continue to use.
When crystallized, celestite sometimes forms in prismatic crystals, and sometimes tabular crystals; the tabular form can look an awful lot like baryte crystals, as baryte has the same structure, although it is barium sulfate rather than strontium sulfate. The two form a continuous series, actually, which means there’s sort of a sliding scale between the two with varying amounts of barium versus strontium (although intermediate specimens in the middle of the scale are rarely found in nature). The main way to tell barite and celestite apart is with what’s called a flame test, where dust is scraped from the crystal into a gas flame — if the flame is green, it’s barite, and if it’s red, it’s celestite. That red flame will come up again in just a few minutes, so keep that thought handy.
Celestite most often forms in sedimentary rocks, though it can also form in cavities of volcanic rocks, as liquid solutions fill in the gaps and then crystals grow in those solutions. It can also form in veins along with other sulfide minerals like galena and sphalerite. The most beautiful examples I’ve seen have been large blue crystals inside geodes, from localities in Madagascar. But there is a celestite geode on an island in Lake Erie that measures up to 35 feet in diameter! Some of the crystals in this cave were mined when it was found, but the owner eventually stopped the mining and turned it into a tourist attraction called the Crystal Cave, where you can see crystals of celestite up to three feet wide. They’re not the clear, pale blue crystals, but even so, the pictures I’ve seen are pretty spectacular.
As the most common strontium mineral, celestite is the primary ore of strontium and strontium salts, which are used in making fireworks and flares. (Remember that red flame it gives off when burned?) It’s also used for manufacturing rubber, paint, and batteries, as well as in other industries. The most beautiful examples, of course, are highly prized by mineral collectors and museums. Like many colored gemstones, its color may fade if kept in direct sunlight, so it’s best not to leave celestite in the window, beautiful as it may be with the sun glinting off the crystals.
Metaphysically, celestite is widely seen as being good for spiritual development, particularly assisting in communication with deities, angels, ascended beings, and spirit guides. It enhances the growth of psychic abilities and aids in astral travel and channeling, especially when it comes to really hearing messages clearly. It’s a good stone for communication in general, with the blue color relating it to the throat chakra. It is widely seen as a healing stone as well. Personally, I feel an almost physical sensation like a cool breeze when I put my face to one of those geodes from Madagascar, and its blue color is wonderfully calming and peaceful.
Since it is a fairly soft and brittle stone, though, you’ll want to handle it carefully if you’re using it for metaphysical purposes. I have a small, pocket-sized piece that I don’t mind getting banged up, but my pretty little geodes always stay somewhere safe!
This article was adapted from the Terra segment of Media Astra Ac Terra Episode #25.